Examination of Witnesses (Questions 160
THURSDAY 1 MARCH 2001
BROOKING CBE, MR
160. But the other thing you have to look at
is it is in Europe again in 2004, it has never been in Africa
or South America, it has been once in Asia, the United States
will want it again and have the money to pay for it. Are you not
talking about 2020 as the first real opportunity when we will
have a reasonable chance of getting the Olympic Games, and are
we not allowing our whole sports policy in this country to be
obsessed by this bid instead of looking at how we provide proper
facilities to ensure we have successful athletes at those Olympic
Games rather than being worried about getting them for ourselves?
(Mr Casey) Taking the last point, I entirely agree
with you, Mr Maxton. It was very interesting to see Denise Lewis
in the newspapers a couple of weeks ago and on the Michael
Parkinson Show talk about the real absence of good facilities
at local level. We totally agree with her and we reckon we need
something like £10 billion in England alone simply to provide
the community with good access to sports centres and swimming
pools and athletics tracks and other major facilities. It is many
decades of under-investment in sport that we are facing at the
moment. Of course, the Lottery has made an enormous difference
but it cannot deal with the sheer demand. Indeed, it is rather
like the Forth Railway Bridge where we are now facing a situation
where many of the sports centres that were built in the 1970s
are closing down and need major refurbishment. We need to catch
up with that issue and we also need to encourage people in sports
161. You precis the background to the problems
that we have had and you have said that ultimately athletics wanted
a stand-alone facility. Do you think that we can really justify
allowing them that stand-alone facility?
(Mr Brooking) That is really the idea of the feasibility
study because there is such a split of opinion. When you look
at the overall sports policy we were asked to look at it as far
as Wembley was concerned but we did not know that is where it
was going to be in London, so it was very difficult at that stage,
and then of course the bid was not put in and we moved on to Picketts
Lock again, and then we were told that was not to be considered
as an Olympic venue. Then there was to be another stadium in London.
Although we have not had discussions yet, now we have had a letter
from the BOA we will have a meeting to have a look. The inference
we heard this morning was that it could well be in East London.
That would involve other stadia, so it is a huge problem, but
as a stand-alone athletics stadium, naturally one of our concerns
is the sustainability and viability. The more events you have
at such a facility the more costs you have as well because it
is losing more money.
162. If you are awaiting a feasibility study
to decide whether it is justified, does that not suggest that
there has been a step taken too quickly, which is to really burn
the bridges of Wembley Stadium and the option that was available
there, before you then moved on to the stand-alone option that,
which it stands at the moment, we have no idea whether it is feasible?
(Mr Casey) What we have always tried to do is to reflect
the demands from the sport. The site of Wembley, the need for
Wembley, the number of events at Wembley and so on all follow
the demands of the sport and it looked as though athletics was
going to use it once for the World Championships and possibly
for the Olympics and then they obviously decided to alter their
stand on that and it has now moved to Picketts Lock. In a sense
we have got to reflect that as a new demand from athletics and
judge that objectively to see what the position is. As other commentators
have said this morning, a stand-alone single athletics stadium
is very, very difficult, if not impossible, to break even, and
therefore the feasibility study is not really to assess that (because
I think we know that already) but rather to assess how it could
be viable. We have heard from David Moorcroft that other people
such as the local authorities and the Marathon Trust may come
in with some revenue costs. We will certainly want to make sure
that that is on a long-term basis because on the long-term sustainability
of these facilities in Manchester and many other parts of the
country it is essential that someone takes that risk and responsibility
for the facility in the long-term.
163. I get the impression that the situation
you are in is not the situation that Sport England would like
to be in. Do you feel you have been pressurised, from whatever
places that may be involved, into being in this position?
(Mr Casey) I think that we obviously see in many parts
of the country the enthusiasm that people have for particular
facilities and very often we share that enthusiasm, but we have
equally got another responsibility and that is to judge projects
objectively. The Secretary of State has given us a legal responsibility
to judge things against certain criteria, which we have discussed,
and it is important to get that balance right.
164. But the difficulty that you are in, as
I see it, is that you are being asked to assess the feasibility
of this project when the reality is that the Secretary of State
seems to have committed you to backing this project in principle.
(Mr Brooking) I think it is fair to say that we got
to July and almost October in 1999 and certainly support was there
for Wembley and the design that came forward to cater for the
World Athletics Championships at Wembley. Then, as I say, there
was the Ellerbe Becket report and two key decisions and the key
one was athletics changing their mind and the feeling they could
get a stand-alone athletics stadium. We have got to look into
the feasibility of that and help them to compile that feasibility
study and then it will have to go to the Panel. We have made it
very clear that there is no automatic element to this and the
scheme has got to stand on its own merits because we have had
a number of very good schemes which we have had to turn down because
of lack of funds.
165. Where would you like to put your money
in terms of the strategy for athletics, whether that be stadia,
projects of one sort or another, funding of athletics? What is
your strategy as Sport England?
(Mr Casey) If I could ignore the World Championships
from the moment and look at what I think is ideal. As Dave Moorcroft
fairly said, we are trying to do this. Over the next 18 to 20
months we have already committed to investing in indoor athletics
facilities at Bath University, at Birmingham, at Manchester for
the Commonwealth Games, both indoor and outdoor, at Loughborough
University, in Sheffield, improvements at Gateshead, and obviously
we are finishing off discussions with Crystal Palace and Picketts
Lock so I imagine by the end of 2002 there will be a very good
network of indoor and outdoor facilities for the country. We believe
strongly that it is important that there is that network to make
sure you are getting those facilities as close to the grass roots
as possible. I think that is very exciting. I think the strategy
for the development of athletics in this country, Sport England,
the three sports and United Kingdom Athletics are at one about
what should actually happen. I am pleased to say that it is happening.
166. Can you tell me how you allocate your budget
for the staging of international sporting events? How is it allocated?
Do you look forward? Do you have a list of events that could be
coming here and decide, "We better keep some money aside
to do that", or is it just haphazard?
(Mr Casey) The present system is that under the UK
Sports Council they have set up a Major Events Steering Group,
that is to do three things essentially. One is to provide guidance
to governing bodies of sport who are thinking of bidding for a
major event. I am very much stressing, "thinking" of
bidding at the very early stages. Secondly, it is to act as a
filter for those events, so that we do not stage all of the major
events in one place or in one country or at one time. Thirdly,
to either fund it itself or to work with home countries sports
councils to fund events in their particular territories. There
is a strategy, and there is a system to try to rationalise major
events coming to this country. I think that is a welcome development,
some of which came out of the Select Committee Report of 1999
or, indeed, earlier than that.
167. If you know an event is coming to this
country and you are told about it, how far ahead are you told
about it so that you can think about it and put the views in about
(Mr Casey) We encourage the governing bodies to come
to us as early as possible, not at the time they are about to
bid, but actually when they are thinking of bidding, so that we
can work with the governing body at that particular point. It
does vary from sport to sport. Some international federations
do have a very long lead-in time for events, others have a very
short lead-in time. It is interesting, for example, if we stick
to athletics, that the World Athletics Championships in Edmonton,
which are taking place in August this year, were only decided
in August of 1999 at the World Championships in Seville. That
does not make sense, and it is good to see that the IAAF is taking
a longer lead-in time to eventsthey actually know it is
London, Paris, Berlinon a rolling programme.
168. I was not thinking of ones which have major
capital costs and on-going costs, I was thinking of something
like the World Fly Fishing Championships, which was held in England,
and which they were told, "Get on with it". This is
an international event, people come from all over the world and
they were told, "We are not interested". If it had been
football with a major capital scheme, with hopes for something
and on-going costs they would have been sitting down trying to
negotiate. Why does that kind of thing happen?
(Mr Casey) Mrs Golding, we admitted the last time
we discussed the World Fly Fishing Championships, I think I said,
"I do not think we got it quite right". If there is
another World Championships we would be very happy to sit down
with the angling bodies to see if we can do better this time.
(Ms Simmonds) It is partly a balance of funding. You
have to have a balance of funding to put into different parts
169. £20 million into football here, there
and everywhere, money into athletics but nothing to fishing, a
(Ms Simmonds) I do have to reiterate that Sport England
is very keen to see these international events coming to Britain.
Coming from the private sector I have to say there is a huge economic
benefit for local communities and for the country with these events
coming here. The London Marathon believe that the economic spin-off
is about £63 million: that is a huge amount of money and
we would not want you to go away thinking we are not supportive
of those events.
170. This is the point I made at the time, it
made no difference.
(Mr Brooking) We go back to how far will the money
go. There is massive demand. We heard the ideas of athletics and
Crystal Palace. Naturally every sport would want everything they
can get, but we would soon run out of the cash. It is trying to
prioritise and trying to get a balance and a spread, I agree.
171. There was a complete change of logic: originally
the argument was, do we need to put athletics in Wembley for the
Olympics via a platform? I remember asking the Secretary of State
when he came along and he said that instead of, his words, wasting
money on a platform of £23 millionsome people say
£40 millionit would be much better to have a stadium
for athletics and use that money to have a permanent stadium.
I remember saying to the Secretary of State, in order to get the
Olympics you are not going to achieve that with just a concrete
bowl somewhere, holding 80,000 people, and he did not really answer
the question. Since then, the argument about whether there should
be a platform for the Olympics in Wembley or in a separate stadium
has disappeared because now we are talking about Picketts Lock
not just being a stadium to attract and have the Olympics, but
a permanent home for athletics. If that argument had been put
in in the first place, we would have Wembley for football and
Picketts Lock for athletics that would have been sensible. To,
first of all, argue that we did not want a platform, which was
going to become a risk, but we would have the Olympics at Picketts
Lock, now suddenly we have Picketts Lock not as an Olympic Stadium
and we have been told to get the Olympics we have to have another
stadium in East London, which is not going to be sustainable.
Can you take me through that? It seems completely illogical, from
beginning to end.
(Mr Brooking) The £20 million was
for the platform. The other important factor to emphasise was
the other £20 million was for the warm-up track, which was
the long-term legacy. The most expensive of the three possible
options was nearly £20 million, that is how we came to the
£40 million. Everyone, as we all know, was okay with that.
The actual platform design was 67,000, although David mentioned
a lot of empty seats, the actual empty seats was not an issue
back in July 1999 and the sight lines were great. The problem
then for an Olympics, at the time it was insisted it was 80,000,
which is not apparent now, it had to get to 80,000. How were we
going to do that extra 13,000? The design came forward. BOA were
unhappy about one or two sight lines, and that is where the Ellerbe
Becket report came about. Then Picketts Lock moved on, again we
know the two decisions that were key and we have tried to service
that one because athletics have changed their mind. We are now
trying to find a stand-alone facility. We have heard the possible
options of temporary seats undercover; they are all going to be
gauged in the feasibility study. It is an area that has to be
resolved once and for all. You really have to lock-in: once you
make decisions you have to get the continuity and the big problem
is if you do get a change.
172. Like some of us have already said, if we
ever get the Olympics it is going to be at Wembley Stadium: they
are not going to build a stadium in East London costing £300
million or £600 million. How did it get mixed up with this?
(Mr Casey) That is a question that Mr Maxton put:
the likelihood of a bid for the Olympics or dealing with the Olympics.
We took the view, and the three sports and Wembley took the view,
that it would not be appropriate at that point to build a stadium
of that design on the basis that we might bid, and we might win
it and we might win it in a defined time period. In a sense, all
we said was if a bid goes forward we need to find a way Wembley
could be converted for Olympic use. If there was a third stadium
in London you have the same questions again about sight lines
and the compatibility of athletics track and field sports. Everyone
around the world is trying to find innovative ways of handling
this. We saw that in Atlanta with the change of use after the
Olympics. We have seen it in Sydney after the Olympics. We will
see it in Manchester. We will see it in Melbourne for the Commonwealth
Games where, again, they are looking at how they can adapt existing
facilities. I have not seen the press article this morning, but
clearly New York, in terms of potentially bidding for the Olympics
in 2012, is also looking for an innovative way forward. If you
go away from athletics, if you take another sport, like swimming,
many countries in the world who would like to stage the World
Swimming Championships are also concerned about having a swimming
pool with something like 25,000 or 30,000 spectators around it.
Many of them talked about putting temporary swimming pools in
exhibition centres and then taking them away, because they do
not have the legacy for these huge stadiums. We are all struggling
to find innovative ways of handling these major events, because
the long-term viability soon catches up with the initial capital
173. Finally, there is some logic in David Moorcroft's
argument, what would you say to me if I said, "Why do we
not have the Olympics permanently in Ethiopia, because there are
world class athletes in Ethiopia, and have one stadium forever?"
It would save all of this waste of money and waste of time that
we spend arguing about it.
(Mr Casey) If you get major events right, Mr Keen,
it leaves good legacy facilities for the community. We are really
pleased in Manchester with all of the facilities, the swimming
pool, which is open; the hockey centre in Belle Vue; the tennis
centre on the Eastlands site; the National Sports Centre; the
Bolton Arena and the Bowls Centre at Heaton Park. All of those
are going to be for community use. You see that already with the
Aquatic Centre in Manchester: it is well used by the community,
by the universities and for top level training as well. Hosting
major events is a good reason for building these facilities: the
long lasting legacy for the community is excellent. If we can
handle that properly, we can do that in other parts of the country
(Mr Brooking) The sports development potential is
massive in any major event. We are managing to work with people
in Manchester, and if you work with DfEE you get into the academic
stream with youngsters, and they can do a whole range of projects
and a whole range of different subjects focusing on that particular
event. Then afterwards, as Derek said, the legacy of the sports
development opportunity is massive. The event is important, but
it does come and go very quickly: it is the build«up before
and the after-effect which is the key to wanting to host a major
event. We did have examples in the early 1990s where an event
was held for a sport, but the sports development potential was
never fulfilled. We tried to rectify that. You have to have a
much longer lead-in time so all those structures are put in place.
(Ms Simmonds) About 6,000 jobs will be created in
Manchester and it meets all sorts of other government targets
to do with social inclusion. There is a lot of regeneration that
has resulted from that project.
Chairman: Thank you. I apologise to colleagues
whose questioning I had to cut short, but since everyone wanted
to ask questions in a limited period that is what had to happen.
I would like to thank our witnesses very much indeed.